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Hill hint in minister message
Trinamul to contest all 42

Kalimpong, Feb. 12: Trinamul minister Jyotipriya Mullick today said the party would field candidates in all 42 Lok Sabha seats, which implied that the ruling party would contest the Darjeeling seat.

Mullick said his party “would contest all 42 seats in the state on its own” and that there “will be no tie-up with either the Congress or the BJP”.

Trinamul sources later said only chief minister Mamata Banerjee would decide on the hill seat, which is now held by the BJP’s Jaswant Singh who had won it with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s support.When the Morcha’s reaction was sought, party general secretary Roshan Giri refused to comment.

Mullick spoke about the seats at the hill Trinamul’s first convention.

The Morcha has said nothing about the Darjeeling seat.

Mullick, who was standing in for Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy at the meeting, said Mamata would emerge the kingmaker after the Lok Sabha elections. “Mamata will be the controlling authority. She will decide who will run the country,” he said.

Hill Trinamul president Rajen Mukhia urged the party leadership to field a local face. “We want someone from the hills to be our candidate whether the Morcha supports us or not. We don’t want someone from Delhi or Calcutta to be fielded. We are hopeful that our leaders will do justice to the hills.”

Mukhia said his party was positioning itself as an alternative to the Morcha in the hills. “We are here to rule the GTA, the municipality and the gram panchayats. We will be a viable alternative to the directionless Morcha,” he added.

Some Trinamul leaders said that though Mamata had herself said at the Brigade rally that the party will contest all the seats, there was a possibility that for the Darjeeling seat the party could strike a deal with the Morcha.

The arrangement would be that in exchange for Trinamul not putting up any candidate from Darjeeling, the Morcha would extend support to the party in the Dooars and Terai where there is a sizeable Gorkha population.

But another leader said “it is too early to talk about an understanding with the Morcha as the election dates have not even been announced”. The leader said: “Didi will take the final call.”

Trinamul leaders, however, concede that there is pressure on the party leadership from the hill unit to put up a candidate from the hills. “Many people are switching from the Morcha to Trinamul,” a leader said.

“So there is enthusiasm among our hill unit members. Getting into an arrangement (with the Morcha) may send the wrong signal.”